Today, potential car buyers don’t need to visit a physical dealership location for their car buying research — search engines can deliver almost all of the information they need, which has changed the face of auto dealership marketing. When a prospect arrives at an auto dealership, they probably have a high intention to buy. Potential buyers know exactly what they want, and don’t have too many questions by the time they walk into the showroom.

Car shoppers are spending most of their time on the internet these days. On average, car buyers are conducting 139 Google searches while researching their next purchase. And of those who spend their time researching online, 71 percent are researching car prices, while 68 percent are finding actual cars listed for sale.

This digital shift means there are several key factors and channels a successful auto dealership should consider in 2019. These include a well-designed website, a strong social media presence, an effective digital marketing strategy, compelling video marketing, and perhaps most critically, the ability to measure and analyze your marketing performance.

Your digital marketing efforts will generate leads many different ways: Form submissions, phone calls, interactions, video views, clicks on your search ads, social media interactions, and more. And by using an analytics tool — like call tracking — you can gain a better sense of which channels and campaigns are the most effective for your next auto dealership marketing initiative.

A digital information shift is happening for the car-buying process

Customers are looking for flexibility, convenience, and instant access to purchase information so they can make a decision quickly and easily. They live in a world of one-hour Amazon deliveries and online meetings with doctors. The internet makes it possible to conduct once-tedious tasks from the comfort of your home.

For example, a customer may visit an auto dealership website after regular business hours. This dealership uses chatbots to not only provide efficient service and answer questions, but also to schedule test drives and collect valuable customer information. This auto dealership marketing tactic — chatbots — led to a form submission and subsequent test drive, and your dealership now has a lead that has moved further into the buying process.

Because of customers’ increasing preference for getting information from dealerships online, you can fine-tune your digital auto dealership marketing efforts to generate more leads while also providing convenience and valuable resources to your audience.

Top auto dealership marketing tactics in the digital age

There are a variety of ways that auto dealership marketing tactics can improve your company’s marketing performance, and overall revenue. One great example is your dealership website — your dealership’s online real estate is one of the most critical tools you have at your disposal. With the right copy and keyword usage, your website will continue to surface in localized search queries.

A high-ranking website ensures that prospects and customers will see everything your dealership has to offer. And the more pageviews you earn and the more time customers spend on your site, the more likely it is that prospects will engage further and convert to car buyers.

Here are a few more examples of how effective auto dealership marketing tactics can result in real leads and conversions at your dealership:

  • Auto dealer website optimization: Your website should include strategic keywords and phrases that your customers are likely to use when searching for a business like yours so that your site shows up in localized searches. To really take on local SEO, optimize  your GMB listings and others across the web to get into the Local Pack. Overall, websites are a valuable initial touchpoint as they provide customers with the information needed to research makes, models, and pricing while also allowing them to reach out by phone or contact form.
  • Form submissions: Again, customers are growing weary when it comes to the car buying process. (They especially want efficiency during the F&I process.) Form submissions can serve as both an auto dealership marketing tactic and a useful tool. Here, you can collect valuable customer information, facilitate an online transaction, or collect online paperwork — all of which leads to relevant lead-generation information.
  • Video marketing:  If a picture is worth a thousand words, video is priceless. In this information age, car buyers want to get a feel for their preferred vehicles before they step into the showroom.  And if used correctly, video can be a valuable auto dealership marketing touchpoint. According to research commissioned by Google, 70 percent of people who used YouTube as a part of their car buying process were influenced by what they watched. This includes videos depicting test drives, features and options, and walkthroughs. A well-placed video could lead to a customer deciding to set up a test drive or a service appointment.  
  • Chatbots: Chatbots are essential for any car dealer that wants to maximize their online interactions and touchpoints with car buyers. South Korean car maker Kia released Kian, a chatbot that answers user questions on Facebook. Since launching Kian, Kia saw conversion rates three times higher when compared to their website (21 percent compared to 7 percent). Chatbots allow you always to be ‘on’ at all times, and answer questions or direct consumers to other parts of your website.
  • Calls-to-Action (CTAs): CTAs are excellent tools for steering your customers to the next step in the car buying process or sales funnel. A CTA can look like pop-up messaging that encourages customers to sign-up for email promotions, or a button inviting potential car buyers to view a car listing. You cannot assume your audience knows what you want them to do. So, CTAs are a great way to encourage your audience to move further in the lead generation process and convert.

These auto dealership marketing tactics aren’t just a boon to customers who are researching your business. They also empower you to maximize the effectiveness of every online interaction, ensuring that prospects evolve into valuable leads and conversions.

Now that we have a sense of the different kinds of customer touchpoints, let’s discuss the importance of measuring their performance.

The importance of call tracking for auto dealership marketing

Effective auto dealership marketing is all about experimentation and seeing what works. You can only begin to establish your target audience and develop touchpoints that attract car buyers and generate leads once you fully understand the digital marketing tactics that deliver success.

And one of the best ways to measure the performance of your auto dealership marketing is through call tracking. Phone calls are the second highest points of initial contact with car buyers, which means they have a much higher likelihood of leading to conversions.

Call tracking enables you to know which of your auto dealership marketing tactics are working, as well as the number of leads you are generating in the short and long-term. With call tracking, you’re able to attach tracking phone numbers to each marketing channel, campaign, or initiative. From there, you can analyze the impact of marketing tactics by measuring the volume and quality of calls being driven by each channel.

These tools are not only there to help you understand the story behind the numbers, but also to enable you to develop strategies to expand your reach and more efficiently serve your customers. Understanding the impact your car dealership marketing tactics are having on your marketing performance is essential to a successful auto business.

The information age has spurred consumers to look to online resources and digital tools for a more convenient and straightforward buying process, while the conditions that prompted this shift are also creating more avenues for online interactions with car buyers. This is why it’s crucial to optimize your digital marketing tactics, as their performance dictates how well you can generate leads and revenue in this ever-evolving age.

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